Imagination at GDC 2016: Vulkan and ray tracing take center stage

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With our world-leading PowerVR GPUs already in the hands of over 2 billion users, Imagination delivers the leading solutions for mobile, AR/VR, and other embedded graphics platforms.

At this year’s Game Developer Conference, we will be hosting a day of developer sessions on our PowerVR GR6500 ray tracing GPU and Vulkan. You can also visit our booth (#1902) at the GDC Expo for a personal look at the latest in mobile graphics and to get your questions answered by our experts.

GDC 2016: idc16 for PowerVR developers

Here are the sessions we are organizing as part of our idc16 event:

PowerVR Graphics Keynote – latest developments and future plans (10:00-11:00)

In this keynote, we will give an overview of Imagination’s hardware and software roadmaps for the PowerVR XE and XT graphics families and the PowerVR Wizard ray tracing technology. Additionally details will be provided on the latest APIs, SDKs and development tools for PowerVR GPUs with a specific focus on the Khronos™ Group’s Vulkan™ API.

Speaker: Kristof Beets, Director of Business Development, Imagination Technologies

Introduction to ray tracing on the PowerVR GR6500 (11:20-11:50)

This session will introduce you to ray tracing on the PowerVR Wizard architecture. The presentation will include a discussion of the GR6500 architecture, including the constructs in software and hardware that allow us to achieve power efficient ray tracing in dedicated silicon.

PowerVR GR6500 GPU - PowerVR Wizard GPUs

Attendees will leave with an understanding of how we are enabling real-time ray tracing techniques for developers, and how they might make use of them.

Speaker: Luke Peterson, Director of Research & Strategy, Imagination Technologies

Real-time ray tracing techniques for developers (11:50-12:20)

This session follows on from our introduction of the PowerVR GR6500 architecture. It will delve into exactly how developers can utilise the power of real-time ray tracing to tackle problems such as variable penumbra soft shadows, glossy reflections and refractions, as well as physics based applications.

PowerVR Wizard Ray Tracing - Production quality rendering

Attendees will leave with an overview of how ray tracing can be used to provide elegant solutions to traditionally difficult to render or achieve effects, creating enhanced realism and more immersive worlds at a fraction of the cost.

Speaker: James Rumble, Developer Technology Engineer, Imagination Technologies

So you want to build a lightmapper? (12:20-12:50)

This session dives into the gritty details of how to build a lightmapper using raytracing. Tackling problems such as how to build the basic pipeline from triangle to rendered lightmap pixel, while attaining high quality. Building lightmappers with interactivity in mind is also considered in this session.

PowerVR Ray Tracing - Unite 2014 - Unity 5 lightmap editor-10

Attendees will leave with an overview of how a raytracing based lightmapper could be built for real-time applications, making it possible to get high quality lighting while maintaining fluid frame-rates.

Speaker: Jens Fursund & Justin DeCell, Software Design Engineers, Imagination Technologies

Efficient rendering with Vulkan on PowerVR (13:20-13:50)

This talk covers how to create efficient graphics applications using the new Vulkan API. Discussion will focus on pipeline objects; render passes, and synchronization mechanisms.

Vulkan demo screenshot

Attendees will gain an understanding of how to write highly efficient rendering applications, and how they will execute on PowerVR’s Tile-Based, Deferred Rendering (TBDR) hardware.

Speaker: Tobias Hector, Software Design Engineer, Imagination Technologies

Migrating to Vulkan with the new PowerVR Framework (13:50-14:20)

Explicit APIs, such as Vulkan, are becoming widespread; whilst powerful, they are verbose and difficult to get to grips with. This session introduces the brand new PowerVR Framework – a cross-API framework simplifying the efficient use of new explicit APIs whilst still supporting traditional APIs. Come along to find out more!

Speaker: Paul Sobek, Developer Technology Engineer, Imagination Technologies

Working with Vulkan on Android (14:40-15:10)

Speaker: Dan Galpin, Developer Advocate, Google

An Introduction to SPIR-V (15:10-15:40)

SPIR-V is the new open standard intermediate language for Vulkan. This talk will explain what SPIR-V is, why Vulkan uses SPIR-V, worked examples of SPIR-V to explain how it’s used, and a foray into the tools available when working with SPIR-V.’

Speaker: Neil Henning, Principal Software Engineer for Vulkan and SPIR-V, Codeplay

Panel Discussion: Is Vulkan a game changer? (16:00-17:00)

In this industry expert panel session, we will discuss the arrival of the Vulkan API and how it will affect game development. This will include the challenge of integrating explicit APIs in existing engines, how decreased CPU overhead and fine-grained memory allocation control will affect the performance characteristics of Vulkan-capable hardware and the engineering cost of taking on responsibility traditionally left to the graphics driver.

Joe Davis, Leading Developer Technology Engineer, Imagination Technologies


  • Tobias Hector, Software Design Engineer, Imagination Technologies
  • Niklas Smedberg, Senior Developer Relations Engineer, Epic Games
  • Bill Bilodeau, Developer Advocate, Google
  • Dean Sekulic, Graphics Programmer, Croteam

Additional materials and resources

The full agenda of our developer day can be found on our GDC 2016 event page. Here are some related reading materials and resources we’ve put together ahead of the event:

We hope to see you there! Make sure you also follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationTech, @PowerVRInsider, @PowerVR_RT) to get the latest news and announcements from the PowerVR community during the event.

Benjamin Anuworakarn

Benjamin Anuworakarn

Ben Anuworakarn is a technical author in the PowerVR Developer Technology team and has a computer science engineering background. Primarily responsible for producing and maintaining both internal and external documentation, he has a knack for coming up with solutions to problems that don't exist yet. You can find him either clacking away at his keyboard or shuffling trading cards every few hours.

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